ORLANDO– You may not have any idea who Florida’s opponent Thursday is, but CBS color commentator Dan Bonner got a full 40 minutes to watch the Albany Great Danes. Bonner did their First Four matchup with Mount Saint Mary’s, a 71-64 Great Dane victory in Dayton, OH. Tuesday night.
Gator Country caught up with him at courtside during open shootaround to talk about UF’s upcoming –and relatively unknown– opponent.
Gator Country: What immediately jumps out to you about Albany?
Bonner: I think the thing that impressed me the most is they play really well together. Most teams that you see have like one great big star and everything’s built around that star. But they have a bunch of guys. You know [guard DJ] Evans last night was the big star [game-high 22 points]. It just seems to me that they don’t mind different guys being the big star. That was impressive.
GC: What’s Albany’s style of play?
B: I would describe their style of play as based on defense and rebounding. Clearly it’s not based on shooting the three although they can. But on defense they’re trying to keep you from attacking the basket and on offense they’re trying to attack the basket.
GC: What did you notice in them while watching them handle Mount Saint Mary’s 19 point comeback at the beginning of the game and did you see any panic in them?
B: I don’t know that it’s a matter of panic, I don’t know that teams ever really panic but what I saw happen was that Mount Saint Mary’s sped them up. It’s one of the things that was really impressive to me was once a team speeds you up it’s awful hard to slow back down again. But I was really impressed with the way that even once they got sped up they were able to slow it down and play at a pace –not a slow pace– but a pace that they were comfortable with and they forced Mount Saint Mary’s to play their style. And I think particularly after Mount Saint Mary’s came back and ran at them like that I thought that was really impressive to get it back.
GC: How do you think Albany matches up with Florida?
B: I think Florida is one of those teams that if you’re gonna come in and upset them you have to be a team that makes an awful lot of threes. I don’t know that Albany matches up particular well against them because Albany’s scoring close to the basket. And Patric Young’s sort of there, and that’s gonna be hard to do.
GC: Who’s one player to look for on Albany’s team tomorrow?
I think again, Evans has to be big I really think that he’s gonna be a key because he can create things that the other guys can’t.